WhatsApp Delays Rollout of New Privacy Tools After User Backlash
By Sebastian Herrera
WhatsApp is delaying a controversial update to its privacy
policy after backlash from some users over how it would share data
with Facebook Inc., which owns the popular messaging service.
The company, which has about two billion users, said they would
have until May 15 to review and accept the new policy, which is
when the data changes are set to go into effect. If users don't do
so by then, the app will eventually stop working for them, a
spokesman said. Previously, the deadline for accepting the changes
was Feb. 8, but WhatsApp said it would "go to people gradually to
review the policy at their own pace."
"We've heard from so many people how much confusion there is
around our recent update," a WhatsApp spokesman said. "There's been
a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help
everyone understand our principles and the facts."
WhatsApp said the new policy isn't set to expand its ability to
share data with Facebook and was instead oriented around allowing
businesses that interact with customers on WhatsApp to store those
conversations on Facebook servers. The changes were a key step in
Facebook's plan to generate revenue with the app after many years
of struggling to do so. Businesses will also be able to store user
shopping activity on the servers.
WhatsApp messages will continue to be protected with end-to-end
encryption and neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see the private
messages, keep logs of who users are calling or messaging, see a
shared location or share user contacts with Facebook, the company
Some data between the two companies has already been shared for
some time. Facebook is able to see which phone numbers are being
used in WhatsApp, how often the app is opened by users and their
Certain users expressed confusion and skepticism last week on
social media about the new policy and questioned whether the
changes would allow Facebook to access messages or other
information they previously believed was private.
While WhatsApp sought to clarify the policy this week,
explaining that its core promise of private, end-to-end encrypted
messaging would remain unchanged, many users began to look
Global WhatsApp downloads decreased by about 17% in the week
after its new policy announcement compared with the week before
across Apple and Google's app stores, according to app analytics
firm Sensor Tower Inc. Meanwhile, downloads of rival messaging app
Signal during the same period rose about 6000% and downloads of
Telegram, another service, more than doubled, according to Sensor
Write to Sebastian Herrera at Sebastian.Herrera@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 15, 2021 14:44 ET (19:44 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.